When I decided to apply to be a writer for the Odyssey, I didn’t expect to have any qualms about the subjects I write about and the content I produce for my friends and family to read. But at the beginning of every week, I find myself faced with a rushed anxiety to write about something that people will want to read. I pick and choose from the amalgam of thoughts that go through my head and pick the best words I can to only moderately explain how I’m feeling. It isn’t that the feelings I do share are dishonest; rather, they’re just a fraction of the thoughts I have, a polished, prepared version for an audience. Writing gives me the ability to pick and choose the parts of myself that I show to others. In doing so, I think that creators with an audience (myself included) sometimes have trouble presenting the flaws we aren’t proud of. To combat this, here are some of mine.
1. I have horrible timing.
Whether it’s double booking my schedule or oversleeping, I always find myself either in a mad rush to get a million things finished in four hours, or with too much time on my hands when there isn’t as much going on in my life. I try to lead an organized life, writing everything down and keeping a calendar, but in the end, I somehow manage to do a double-take when I glance at the time and realize it’s 1:30 in the morning the night before a paper is due. Beyond my organizational skills (or lack thereof), my timing sometimes causes problems when I’m meeting new people or trying to appear put together. I respond late, even in person, mishear things, and trip over myself at all the worst moments. I’m working on not overwhelming myself, and realizing that I need to leave time enough to prepare myself for school and social events.
2. I have a really bad memory, and I’m terrible at gift-giving.
I really hate this about myself. I just can’t remember things. I mix up faces and call people by the wrong name all of the time. It seems I’m just never attentive enough and I can’t recall details very well. Some people have this natural ability to think of the perfect gift for a friend, or even a new stranger they’ve just met. I’m not one of those people. Whenever I try to come up with a present, it feels forced or generic. My gifts are almost always late, and sometimes they never make it at all. I’m working on thinking ahead for people and sometimes I literally repeat someone’s name 10 times when I meet them, just to make sure I don’t confuse them for somebody else.
3. I get anxious and paranoid very easily.
Though my anxiety isn’t too serious (I rarely get panic attacks, and when I do, they’re manageable for the most part), I find myself on edge a lot, especially when I’m worried about being late for an interview or speaking in front of others. Often, I can only think about all the potential things that can go wrong in a situation, instead of having confidence and faith in my ability to do things well. I hate feeling vulnerable but I hate showing vulnerability even more. Sometimes I get skittish and jumpy because I’m so lost in my worries that my surroundings become blurred. I become a little paranoid and worry about so many details that I forget about the big picture. If something goes wrong, I tend to blame myself and it factors into my level of anxiety the next time a similar situation is in front of me. I’m working on having more confidence in myself and staying focused on what I can control instead of everything that I can’t.
4. I have a short temper.
Anyone who knows me has probably suffered the effects of this at some point in our knowing each other. And if not, you will eventually. I guess this is indirectly one of the results of my anxiety: I can be irritable because I’m not in control. As much as I want to believe that I’m a patient, open-minded individual, I need to acknowledge that that’s not always the case. Sometimes I can be childish, and it leads to misunderstandings and conflict. Pride gets in the way and it’s hard for me to forgive people. I’m basically the undergraduate version of Nick Miller… I’m working on being more patient with people and thinking through my responses before I speak. I’m trying to become more wary of how my words land and affect others.
5. I'm afraid of failure.
It’s not that I don’t have ambition, but as soon as something seems to be going really well, I pull away because I’m afraid that it’ll crash and burn. I lose motivation to do simple things, like keeping up with my New Year’s resolutions, because a small part of me is expecting myself to fail. I think to an extent everybody is afraid to fail, but some people are comfortable with taking risks because they see that the potential benefits outweigh the consequences of failure. I think that going through the rejections I have experienced so far in college have made me more cognizant of this fear of mine. It’s hard, but I’m slowly starting to see the ways that my failures don’t define me.